Parliamentary debate on Section 377A, part 14: Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim

Editor’s note: Only the parts of the speech touching on 377A are archived here

Source: Parliamentary Reports

23 October 2007, 4:05 pm, in Parliament

Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim (Marine Parade): Mr Speaker, Sir, before I end my speech, I would like to be heard on my views on the Petition to repeal section 377A of the Penal Code that has been brought to this House for debate.

Sir, the Petition brought forward by Mr Siew Kum Hong, in recent weeks, has attracted widespread attention and debate in both mainstream media channels as well as on the Internet. I have been following this debate, trying to understand what both sides of the coin present.

Mr Speaker, Sir, I have mentioned earlier that the Penal Code is a vital component of our judiciary system. It sets both the economic and social direction that our society would take in realising our vision for the nation while, at the same time, protecting the interests and rights of our society.

In recent weeks, I have heard many voices in both mainstream media and others that have called for the retention of section 377A. In private, I have personally received strong disapproval from my residents who have submitted their own petitions to retain section 377A. Feedback from the ground suggests that the majority of my constituents feel the same way too. Like the hon. Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP for Hong Kah GRC, I received similar feedback from my engagement with the members of the Malay community. In fact, in addition to the delicious rendang and ketupat, section 377A became a topic of discussion during my Hari Raya visits and gathering.

One feedback I received in particular was from a concerned parent, a mother in fact, whose son would be entering National Service soon which would put him in a male-oriented environment. She is concerned on how her son would have to manage this issue during his National Service. How would he and his fellow NS mates’ focus be affected when their main objective was to protect our nation? And she is concerned that her son’s sexual orientation may be influenced. Though pro-petitioners to repeal section 377A could always have a counter argument against her concerns, I feel that it is still a genuine worry of many parents and reflects the sentiments of the society towards this issue. She further claimed that many of her friends and relatives are concerned about this issue and hope that the outcome of our debate would address their concerns.

Sir, I recognise that gay Singaporeans have contributed to our nation-building process and, like most Singaporeans, been loyal to our nation. However, I do feel that the act to repeal section 377A is against the mainstream approval of most Singaporeans.

Singapore is that unique Asian society that still embodies strong cultural traditions and religious roots while at the same time is also immersing itself in new cosmopolitan lifestyles and values. However, what makes us different is that we are discerning in our approach to find the right balance that meets the needs and aspirations of our people. I am not certain that repealing section 377A at this moment serves the larger interests of our nation.

On the issue of infringing the rights of gay Singaporeans, I do not think the community’s rights are being put under the microscope. The gay community in the past and present has its private space in Singapore and, like other citizens, the rights to vote and enjoy the benefits that most Singaporeans are accorded.

Sir, the essence of my argument is to engage in a speech that the purpose of the Penal Code is in serving our society and nation in this ever complex world. To me, the Penal Code serves the interest of the community at large. The message that I heard loud and clear is that the majority of Singaporeans are not ready for open homosexuality acts to be part of our way of life yet.

Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to record my strong support that section 377A be retained in the Penal Code.

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